Badtux the Snarky Penguin

In a time of chimpanzees, I was a penguin.

Religious fundamentalists are motivated by the sneaking suspicion that someone, somewhere, is having fun -- and that this must be stopped.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Can you eat gold?

As others have noted, the U.S. Treasury is printing money with all the fervant abandon of a Weimar Republic finance minister, and, as expected when you have too much money chasing the same amount of goods, the value of the dollar is falling. In addition, the sub-prime market is collapsing, and since the notion that trillions of dollars of collateralized securities can be allowed to suddenly vaporize into nothingness and cause a deflationary spiral similar to 1929 is ridiculous, the Treasury will be printing yet more money shortly to bail out the holders of those collateralized securities.

Those are short-term problems. Long term, there are even bigger problems on the horizon. The U.S. economy is hollowed out and makes nothing of note anymore, other than increasingly worthless dollars that we export in ever greater numbers to buy the essentials of life. The American "lifestyle", which is heavily petroleum dependent, is unlikely to survive $25 per gallon gasoline, which is coming within the next twenty years. Add to that the melting of the ice caps, which will submerge many of the important coastal cities, and we may be setting up for a Dark Ages that will rival that which occurred during and after the fall of Rome.

What to do? Some folks say "buy gold." The problem is, you can't eat gold. If the currency collapses and you're reduced to barter, nobody is going to trade stuff to you for gold. They're going to trade stuff to you for something useful. Something that can be eaten, or that they need to keep warm or housed.

So now we know what's NOT useful. Some other things I can think of that aren't useful:

  • Lots of food. Food goes bad after a while, so you end up having to rotate it out. Food is also very bulky. It would be hard to store enough food to be useful in the long run.
  • Seed. Not bulky like food, but unless you're actually a farmer, impossible to rotate out as it goes bad. Illiquid -- you can't easily get rid of year-old seed.
  • Guns. Well, lots of guns would actually be *very* good to stock since as governments collapse neighborhood militias and other such substitutes will take their place, except that in a pre-collapse world lots of guns also tend to result in unwanted attention from the BATF. See: Branch Davidians, Waco. Oh that's right, you can't, because they're dead. Anyhow, the U.S. is already awash in guns, so I think we can figure that there will be no shortage in the future either.

So, what WOULD be useful? Well, being young, feral, and vicious would be useful. Being an attractive breeding-age female would be useful. Since this penguin is neither of those, however, that doesn't seem like a good plan of action. Beyond that, well, discuss.

- Badtux the non-survivalist Penguin

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Posted by: BadTux / 3/26/2007 01:44:00 PM  


Yeah, I've been thinking along those lines too. The fiance and I are moving back east soon to live in a house she inherited when her grandfather passed away. On the one hand, it's old and sturdy and completely paid for, so there's no mortgage to worry about when the economy goes in the shitter. And the state is quite rural (largest town is about 65,000) and has lots and lots and lots of forest that can serve as fuel when the oil runs out.

Unfortunately, said state also has a miserably cold climate and sits on thin, porous, nutrient-poor topsoil covering a bed of granite; not so good for farming. And the house in question is less than fifteen feet above sea level, so it'll probably be under water in 25-30 years.

There's no perfect place to escape the coming economic and climatic clusterfuck. Oh well, I'll still have it better than those poor suckers in the Deep South and desert states. Those parts of the country are pretty much inhabitable by humans without cheap gas, imported water, and AC...
# posted by Gerald Fnord : 26/3/07 3:08 PM  

That's it. I'm starting a brothel.

# posted by Mixter : 26/3/07 3:14 PM  

Brothels are decidedly a growth industry in chaotic societies.

The Deep South was actually quite inhabitable prior to AC. Indeed, my mother grew up in a house that did not even have electricity until 1958 (and they also grew or raised most of the food they ate, their only purchased food item was flour to mix with their corn meal to make tastier cornbread), and our own house did not have air conditioning until 1975. Yes, we sweated a lot -- even the attic fan (this being an ENORMOUS thing that ran with a huge WHOOOSH that was strong enough to suck paper and small children up to its grate in the hallway) was really only useful at night, when it could pull a hurricane of cooler air through the open windows, and when it was above 80F at midnight *nothing* could make it anything other than miserable. But hey, we survived just fine. And with a water table that is only feet below the surface of the ground, water is no problem either -- grab shovel, and start digging.

The Desert Southwest was inhabited prior to air conditioning also. But water was, and is, the main limiting factor there. Especially for Los Angeles, which is dependent upon water stolen from elsewhere for its existence. The Owens Valley was turned into a desolate desert by the LAWD, and they're currently sucking so much water from the Colorado River (more than their allotment) that the river runs dry near its mouth. Without the stolen water, there's only enough water for a few thousand hardy souls clustered around various natural springs in the area... eep!
# posted by BadTux : 26/3/07 3:42 PM  

Being an attractive, breeding age female would be an invitation to assault and slavery. Believe it.

Being a doctor and stockpiling herb books and medicines would be a plus. Having a loom, spinning wheel, and sewing machine would probably be useful. A churn. Hand tools. A lathe that runs on a treadle.

Fnord should keep sheep or goats, and make sure he has a nice wood stove.
# posted by Scorpio : 26/3/07 3:51 PM  

A *live* slave, though, Scorpio. Historically speaking, Mixter's brothel idea actually works out pretty well in practice. It means allying with the local militia and allowing them free use of the girls (consider it "in lieu of taxes"), but in return said militia also gives protection against men who come in to get sex who try to take it by force. Of course, it all depends upon the local militia as to how tolerable the situation is in the long term... but most militia types would rather not be in the managing of women business, so it does seem to work out, at least in the cases I've looked at historically.

- Badtux the Socio-historian Penguin
# posted by BadTux : 26/3/07 4:47 PM  

Anyone know any women who wanna work for me? I (and the militia boys) will take good care of them. Big house, lotsa rooms, I'm a great cook, etc. I'll have to buy a couple of guns first, but I'm willing to do what it takes... My daughter, however, will be my assistant manager and hands-off to them thar militia boys.

# posted by Mixter : 26/3/07 9:07 PM  

the mormons store enough for for a year or two -- and they do it in all sorts of places...under their beds is one unusual place...

i'm up for stocking up on food and guns...even though i'm a pretty good-looking female -- not interested in breeding for babies anymore...grin
# posted by azgoddess : 27/3/07 8:36 AM  

the desert southwest can be very reasonably coped with by adoption of thick adobe walls (with packed sand or baled straw in between the outer and inner walls), overhanging eaves, and placing the structure in the environment to make full use of the prevailing wind patterns. the big deal in the desert is water. a big ass collapse in the economy would send a lot of people running away from the desert. our water table would have a pretty decent chance of recovery, as would our rivers.
# posted by The Minstrel Boy : 27/3/07 9:03 AM  

"Being a doctor and stockpiling herb books and medicines would be a plus. Having a loom, spinning wheel, and sewing machine would probably be useful. A churn. Hand tools. A lathe that runs on a treadle."

Agreed. Start stocking up on those "old-timey" skills, like spinning, weaving, knitting, animal husbandry, glass blowing, food preservation, pottery etc. Think pre-Industrial revolution. And buy a large chunk of rural land with decent resources and lots of guns to defend it. Gotta have those guns!

"Fnord should keep sheep or goats, and make sure he has a nice wood stove."

Wood stove yes, goats yes, sheep... probably not. Sheep clip grass to the roots making large ranges of pasture necessary and while useful for food and wool, they do require a lot of time/energy investment. I say llamas are the way to go. Fiber, meat, and a pack animal to carry all those guns. Plus, if the Inca can keep them in the Andes, I can't imagine they require much in the way of pasturage. At any rate, I think best chance of survival actually lays in teaming up with a group of like-minded people and starting a sustainable intentional community in a highly defensible location because it's not a question of if.. it's a question of how long we have to prepare.
# posted by Sionnach, the Celtic Kitsune : 27/3/07 9:27 AM  

Be careful where you get your seeds. When farming became agribusiness the whole equation changed. Corporations like Monsanto offered genetically modified seeds to farmers, but there is a catch. They don't want the farmers simply holding back a small amount of crop to use as seed the next year, so one modification they make is the introduction of the so-called 'doomsday gene.' This renders the seed from your corn, wheat, barley, etc. infertile, and USELESS to plant the next year. This will complicate the post-industrial holocaust quite a bit, I would say.
# posted by SadButTrue : 27/3/07 12:02 PM  

Heirloom seed companies are all over the net. Monsanto is an abomination.

One of the most insane things the US has done in invading and annexing Iraq is forbidding keeping seed stock. They want the Iraqis to be slaves to Big Agra. Sometimes I hate our government's current incumbents, and especially when they do shit like that.
# posted by Scorpio : 27/3/07 5:39 PM  

Hello, Badtux.

Just to say that I prefer a good crossbow to any gun.
I've never missed with a crossbow.
# posted by Progressive Traditionalist : 27/3/07 5:41 PM  

Badtux, you forgot San Diego. There's another 3 million dead within a week or two if the water gets cut off. Try telling that to the real estate developers.
# posted by nunya : 28/3/07 5:22 PM  

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